Edited by Patrick Markey
For those in the flesh smuggling trade, a sharp warning.
Ireland’s Justice Minister John O’Donoghue recently announced tough new laws against criminal gangs who benefit from illegal immigrant smuggling, including unlimited fines and up to 10 years in prison or both.
The Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill also provides for the forfeiture of the means of transporting the immigrants such as boats, lorries, planes, cars and taxis.
"I am seriously concerned about the level of exploitation being perpetrated by organized criminal elements who arrange the movement of vulnerable individuals across borders in Europe under extremely dangerous conditions," O’Donoghue said.
The minister said there had been well-publicized incidents of groups of people being smuggled into Ireland in goods containers. Immigrants have been arriving via Britain or France — many of them stowing away in trucks arriving on ferries.
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Many of the immigrants have admitted paying out cash to smuggling gangs who briefed them on what to do when they get into the country.
The numbers turning up and applying for asylum has exceeded 100 a week and the processing system had been unable to deal with the backlog. Extra staff have been hired but there is still a backlog of over 6,000 immigrants awaiting a decision on their applications.
O’Donoghue said that genuine asylum seekers and refugees would have nothing to fear from the new laws.
"But it is absolutely vital to send out a very clear signal to those who are engaged in the organization of trafficking of illegal immigrants that further exploitation will not be tolerated," the minister said.
Talk about corporate cheek.
Local residents of Harold’s Cross in Dublin are furious with the local ESAT Digifone company after it set up a mobile phone mast in their midst, and there appears to be little they can do, reports the Irish Times.
Not only was the mast put up overnight , and residents only informed the next day, but the 15-meter-high contraption is on wheels — thus, say officials, there’s no need for planning permission because the structure is mobile.
According to local government regulations, a "transportable radio link" is exempt from planning laws, a letter to residents states. The structure will be removed within four months, the latter continues.
The structure, which hums while working, has caused considerable concern among locals.
"If they had even asked us would we mind and explained to us what they were doing before they came along at 10 o’clock at night with it," one resident said.
This is the latest protest by locals over the installation of a mobile mast. In several areas Gardai have clashed with locals over the masts. Residents often see them as a nuisance; while telecommunications officials view them as essential for better service.
An ESAT Digifone official said the company was looking for a solution.
In the latest scandal involving the Irish Christian Brothers, four former workers at the St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Tralee, Co Kerry, appeared in a district court recently charged with sexual offenses against boys in their care.
One brother, a 69-year-old, had 43 charges of indecent assault and gross indecency filed against him. The others were hit with similar charges, reports the Irish Times.
The charges stem from incidents that allegedly took place at the school during the 1960s and 1970s. All four men were released on bail.
In a prepared statement, the Congregation of Irish Christian Brothers said: "We want to make it very clear we are cooperating fully with the Garda investigations being carried out as a result of complaints that they have received. The brothers deeply regret the hurt that may have been caused in any school or institution with which they are or have been associated."